Shake UP your city News : Interview to Ana Aguiar
"We need participants who want to fully join in with this experiment, learn more about themselves and about the city." This is the main aim of a campaign to promote the SenseMyCity application, says Ana Aguiar, researcher and lecturer at FEUP. "We are designing a kind of competition based around research, offering prizes to those who contribute with the most data," she explains. The lowest fuel consumption or the largest area of the city covered are just two of the factors that can be "awarded" a prize. To join this research group, simply access the webpage, register and download the application.
On a technical level, the next step for SenseMyCity is to improve the presentation of data and add other information. Furthermore, according to the researcher, the aim is also to "carry out interdisciplinary studies in Psychology, Sociology, and Geography and in the area of Smart Mobility", always with the aim of better understanding the city and its inhabitants. "We are working with European partners to internationalize the project and the Porto Living Lab", concludes Ana Aguiar.
SenseMyCity is a collaborative sensing platform that makes use of existing sensors in users’ mobile phones. It supports external commercial sensors for vital signs, vehicle or environmental data, and allows questionnaires to be a part of data collection. Sensing applications can be configured and distributed among a large number of participants using mobile phones to collect information about the life of the city and its inhabitants.
The SenseMyCity platform is an evolution of the design that was developed by MISC, the first phase of the MIT | Portugal partnership.
SenseMyCity and Future Cities
The SenseMyCity application was developed within the Future Cities project by the working group led by Ana Aguiar, lecturer and researcher at FEUP. She affirms that this project "promotes collaboration between researchers from different institutions within the University of Porto and with partner institutions of international excellence."
According to Ana Aguiar, the Future Cities project, which includes the SenseMyCity application, is very "focused on experiments involving end users, i.e. people who participate in the projects collecting data, using equipment and services, providing us with feedback for us to improve, and giving ideas about other services". The big advantage is the fact that these same people have the opportunity "to try out technology not yet available on the market, to better understand certain aspects of their lives, the city and technology, and to influence future developments." As a result, many scientific and technological problems may arise, but Ana Aguiar gives her assurance that the project can deal with any "cycle of problems-solutions-experiments-new problems, as this is how science advances and the quality of people’ s lives as a whole improves ."
She adds: "It is an incredible asset for the University of Porto and the researchers involved because it allows us to define and build experimental infrastructure to carry out experiments with freedom, not being restricted to a concrete business plan, but only to the guidelines on issues regarding the results of research, i.e. the scenarios that should be worked."
Ana Aguiar believes that this type of consortium enables researchers to develop and test ideas jointly, so as to better prepare for future projects, as well as offering international partners not only ideas, but also pilot tests in live laboratories so they can be tested .